Pam Powell: Oil Figures and Interiors

After touring Europe as a young woman, Pam Powell, inspired by the works of Michelangelo, decided to pursue a life in art. She earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpture from the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, then a bachelor of fine arts degree in illustration from the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco, where she was an instructor for more than a decade. The Guerneville, California, resident now paints full time. Visit her website at

To read more about Powell, see the March 2010 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Here is some art that didn’t appear in the issue.

“I love counter tops with stools set right against windows, as seen in A Clear View (oil, 18×24),” says Powell. “The people sitting at these counters are very accessible to the outside viewer. My model Jessica looked so engaged in the activity outside the window that I decided to paint in something fun for her to look at.”

For A Cast Shadow (oil, 18×24), Powell used two dramatic photos, one each of models Jessica and Jesse, which, by luck, were lit from the same side. ”I also used tables and chairs from a third picture” she says, “and made up a simple background.”

“I like the way the couple in Parallel Parking (oil, 24×18) ended up being framed by the meter, the windshield and the awning,” says Powell. “The busy street is part of the atmosphere.”

“I find models everywhere,” says Powell. “The girl in Eye Contact (oil, 20×16) is a sister of one my son’s hockey teammates. A high school student, she was perfect in this vibrant ice cream parlor, and she brought along her boyfriend. Ah, young love!”

“I took the model Jesse to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco,” says Powell. It occurred to me that a bouquet of flowers on the table would create lots of storytelling potential, as seen in The Red Chair (oil, 36×24).”

Café Trieste, 3 PM (oil, 36×24) is my first painting in which I used the reflection in the window as part of the composition,” says Powell. The café is a legendary North Beach institution in San Francisco, and I love being able to see the locale while viewing the interaction of the characters inside.”

Powell’s friends sometimes suggest models for her café paintings. A Sure Sign (oil, 36×24) features the son and daughter-in-law of an art dealers who represents the artist’s work. “It was sort of a blind date,” says Powell, “as we met for the first time in the cafe I’d chosen.”




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